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MIT student blogger Laura N. '09

Academic Marathon by Laura N. '09

If Mollie's boyfriend can complain, so can I.

So you guys.

MIT is hard.

No, seriously. I figure you’ve probably heard this once or twice before, but I think it’s worth mentioning again. Plus, there’s a lot of work.

Take last week, for example. I was up until ungodly hours Wednesday night finishing the 18.02 pset that was due at 1 PM on Thursday. Once I handed that in, I had a couple of hours of class. After that, I dedicated all of my time to studying for the 8.02 exam that was held 7:30 that night. I finished around 9:15, got back to my room around 9:30, and started right in on the 18.03 pset that was due Friday. I did not get much sleep Thursday night. At all.

Then I got my 8.02 test back. I lost 15 points on one question because at step number one I somehow managed to forget that my Gaussian surface was a cylinder and not a sphere. That was sad. =(

On the plus side, I actually found the time to do all of my reading for my supercool HASS class (American Classics). In fact, I did extra reading. We read Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, which is bound with Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (which is only suggested and not required reading for the course). I read them both, which made me feel accomplished. =)

My spring break plans are almost finalized (finally!) I’ll be sticking around for the first part of the weekend to go to the FIRST Boston Regional (leave a message if you’re going to be there!) to cheer on Team 97. (Manchester photos to come soon, I promise!) I’ll travel home on Sunday in time to visit my church youth group. I miss those guys. Every year the group goes to this retreat at a Catholic college in NJ, and they make a banner about the retreat’s theme to display there. Every year it’s a big creative project, which was always funny because none of us is very creative. A couple of weeks ago I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize. When I answered there was just a bunch of screaming in the background. I was really confused until I heard my youth group leader Mike (also an engineer! I used to bring my engineering homework to youth group…ha). I was thrilled to hear from them and said “Oh hi! How is everyone?” His immediate response was “We’re fine but listen, we’re sitting here trying to make a banner for the retreat and we need your help.” =) That totally made my day, I laughed for five minutes. Hmm I guess that might sound weird. Basically, youth group was really important to me for a long time, and I’m excited to be going back to visit.

Anyway, on Tuesday, April will be coming down to stay with me for the rest of the week. We’re going to spend lots of time with my good friend Sarah, visit cool places in NJ, and go to the NJ admitted students meeting in Princeton- so let me know if you’ll be there!

This week is only a slight variant on last week- I have an 18.02 pset and exam tomorrow and an 18.03 pset due Friday. Plus, Kristi, one of my good friends from high school, is visiting this weekend. I really need to go get caught up on work so I can have fun this weekend. Thanks for reading this far through my ramblings. Read on for my responses to comments.

Responses to comments: (Warning: There are a lot!)
Like 10 people who commented on one of my recent entries about writing notes on problem sets:
Hey I do that too!
Awesome! I am so encouraged to know I’m not alone. I will proudly continue my tradition of transcribing the scrambled contents of my brain on the margins of the pages of MIT’s notorious problem sets. In fact, I added another sarcastic comment to my 8.02 pset just last week. Don’t get me wrong, I love 8.02 (except when I hate geometry. See above). But each 8.02 pset has these estimation problems, which aren’t bad in principle. Sometimes they’re actually pretty cool, and they’re bearable when they’re asking you to estimate the distance between 2 buildings on campus within one order of magnitude. But sometimes they require ridiculous estimations. For example, on a recent pset we were asked to calculate the capacitance of a capacitor made out of aluminum foil and saran wrap. I wrote out the question as usual, added my estimations of the area of the aluminum foil, and then wrote, “and of course, the dielectric constant of saran wrap, as everyone knows, is 3.”

Kyle Creyts said:
As for that sticker, since when could one consider anything bearing a teddy bear dangerous? I mean… It’s a teddy bear… ’nuff said.
Teddy bears are not dangerous. Inviting anyone literate enoug to read a sticker on your shirt to hug you…that’s a different story.

Ashley said:
YAY for FIRST!!
I cant wait til this weekend for the Ypsi Regional at EMU…
Were you on a FIRST team in high school?
Now you got me thinking about the regional and how i cannot wait for the regional this weekend!

I was on a FIRST team my junior year. Unfortunately, the team was disbanded during my senior year. =( My ultimate goal in life after retirement is to go back to teach engineering at my old high school and restart the team. I don’t know what I’m going to do in the meantime, but at least I have an end plan. =)

Shen wrote:
Speaking of HASS classes, which ones have you taken and particularly enjoyed?
Well, I’m only a freshman, and this is only my second HASS, and so far I’ve enjoyed them both. Last semester I took 21F.716- a Hispanic Lit class. This semester I’m taking American Classics, which is halfway between history and literature. I’m a sucker for reading, I guess. I do know that 24.900 (Intro to Linguistics) and 9.00 (Intro to Psychology), which are both considered HASS classes even though they’re not technically offered by the HASS department, are insanely popular classes. I think I might take 24.900 next semester. April is in 9.00 and she absolutely loves it; she says the lecturer is really good.

Arturo wrote:
Congratulations! I know how challenging an EMT practical exam can be (I’ve already failed once). I’ve been studying all week for a theoretical EMT exam tomorrow, wish me luck!
Hmm, I guess this is a little late, but I hope you did well! In my haste to schedule my written exam, I almost agreed to take it during the middle of my 18.02 exam tomorrow. Yikes. Luckily I caught the mistake just in time and scheduled it for next week instead.

Caroline wrote:
Ooh which regional? My team was at the Granite State Regional last weekend… It was wicked awesome! :)
That’s where I was! I’m sorry I missed you! What team? And more importantly, will you be at Boston next weekend?

Sarab wrote:
Dumb Question. What the hell is an EMT or a HASS?
An EMT, or Emergency Medical Technician, is someone who is trained in first aid and emergency medicine. They’re basically the people who show up in the ambulance when you call 911. Although I’m not sure exactly how the emergency response system works in other countries, so even that explanation may not make sense to you. Check out the wikipedia page I linked to. Also, a HASS is MIT lingo for a class in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

Dan Tecker wrote:
Hey my names Dan Tecker…are we related?
It’s not like Tecker is a common name.

Oh. Tecker isn’t actually my name. It’s this corny joke that arose during high school. I went to “High Tech High” and we called ourselves “High Techers” or “Techers” for short. Only I think “Techers” looks like “teachers” or at least like it should be pronounced with the “ch” sound like in “beach,” so I changed the spelling. Hmm. I really do need a new blog name anyway. Any ideas?

4 responses to “Academic Marathon”

  1. here’s an idea ……… for ye shall know the tech … the tech shall set the new world …….

  2. Caroline says:

    Team 138, Team Entropy.

    (We had a wicked sweet autonomous mode… That’s how people sort of knew us…. smile )

    And no, I won’t be in Boston… We’re going to Nationals instead of another regional.

    I hope you manage to restart the FIRST team at your old high school — it’s such an awesome program!

  3. Fiona says:

    Wow so I read your entry and almost felt like I wrote it myself…I’ve been involved with FIRST for four years and also with my church’s youth group. Craziness. Anyways have fun at the Boston Regional!

  4. Hamster says:

    Over time I’ve read several people talking about their HASS classes like they are more enjoyable than their engineering/science courses, which always surprises me because it conflicts with the supergeek MIT stereotype.

    Is it that you like them because they are easier? If you truly just enjoyed the material more, why wouldn’t you major in a humanities subject?